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Paul Anthony Smith: Dreams

May 20, 2022 - August 12, 2022
Crossroads Hotel


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Paul Anthony Smith’s newest work, Dreams, models itself after the Harlem Renaissance Poet Langston Hughes’ poem, A Dream Deferred. Nodding to Andy Warhol’s paintings of flowers and the extraordinary value of those works, Smith's large-scale paintings are constructed from images taken along the gardens of Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side across from New York City's Central Park where semi-impervious fencing both lures passersby and enforces distance. Smith’s work asks What is the American dream, in a context of impervious class and place. Here, in Kansas City, these paintings consider local systems of oppression such as red lining along Troost Avenue, highlighting how neighborhoods are designed to segregate people, but also memorializes the intention required to maintain these divisions. Smith’s work speaks to beauty that remains beyond reach, and the barriers that we should explode.


Dreams Deferred is curated by Tiffany Meesha Thompson + Hesse McGraw, executive director, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Crossroads Hotel gallery and art program is organized by El Dorado and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston with Tiffany Meesha Thompson.